High cost of free speech
Right pays dearly for intemperate words while left gets free pass
For a couple of years now, I have been talking about the Kultursmog, the utterly polluted state of our political culture. Those who pollute it are liberals. Kultursmog is the only form of pollution they approve of, but they approve of it mightily, and, of course, they are the chief contributors to its noxious fumes. Now they are using it to kill off an American value prized by millions of Americans down through the centuries: free speech. As I say in another context, we are watching the death of liberalism.
Through Media Matters for America, MSNBC, Think Progress and various other outfits, liberals are trying to kill off talk radio. They have made feints in this direction for years, for instance in encouraging the return of the Fairness Doctrine, which is anything but fair. Now they are aiming at the heart of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, and, as collateral damage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and the whole conservative cabal. As I mentioned last week, Rush in the course of his 15 hours of dialogue each week made a joke of dubious jocularity about the felicitously named Sandra Fluke. All hell broke loose. To my surprise — and I suspect to Rush’s — it turns out that his joke was almost tasteful and indeed elevated in comparison with the tasteless scurrility directed at conservative women.
The clown Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a “dumb t——” and a “c——.” He jokes about Rick Santorum’s wife using a sex device. Ed Schultz has called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut,” anticipating Rush’s reference to Ms. Fluke. Keith Olbermann is as foul, and doubtless there are others. This is the language regularly resorted to by the left, and one would think that these revelations would put an end to the orchestrated crisis over Rush, especially because it was a liberal, the admirable Kirsten Powers, who turned up these instances of garbagespiel. But no, the crisis continues.
I can understand why. Talk radio is almost exclusively conservative radio. For some reason, liberals cannot make it in the talk-show market. Even when they come up with heavily subsidized formats like Air America, liberals flounder. This, I suspect, is because they cannot talk about politics without assuming a grim voice and interlacing their dialogue with scatological references. Have you ever heard them? Have you read their blogs? They have sewers for brains.
My colleague Jeffrey Lord connected the dots Tuesday on the American Spectator’s Web site, Spectator.org. Using the indispensable Daily Caller, he pointed to the Caller’s evidence that Media Matters virtually writes the scripts for such MSNBC eminentoes as Al Sharpton and the dolt Mr. Schultz. Moreover, Media Matters does it with a vast mound of George Soros’ money. Most of what Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Schultz say is mendacious and infantile, and sometimes it is worse. Mr. Lord presented for Spectator readers some of Mr. Sharpton’s indigestible morsels. The morsels came from before he linked up with Mr. Soros and MSNBC, but that is all the more reason he should not be posing as a commentator on cable news. He has no claim to being a journalist. Perhaps he can claim to be a personality, but if that is the case, the way he became a personality is similar to how the late George Wallace became a personality. It was through racism, and as a personality, Wallace did not get far.
On our website, Mr. Lord has preserved the tapes of Mr. Sharpton inveterately using the N-word. He uses terms like “white interloper” and “cracker.” He refers to Aristotle — yes, that Aristotle — as “a Greek homo.” So far to the left has the Kultursmog gone that it finds Rush controversial but finds Mr. Sharpton a budding Walter Cronkite. In truth, as Mr. Lord has demonstrated, Mr. Sharpton made his way to national fame as a racist rabble-rouser.
Talk radio is afflicted by several thousand social isolates sitting around the house in their underwear tapping out irate messages to the sponsors of Rush and his cohorts. They do it on their digital tools, Twitter, Facebook and blogs. They rely on the same mentality as the Occupiers. Their complaints to sponsors amount to dirty tricks. They are not clients or customers. They are a pain in the neck but nothing more. Eventually, this too will pass, but in the meantime, things will be tricky for talk radio — unless it mounts a counterattack on Media Matters for America, MSNBC (whose owner is Comcast) and Think Progress. Just a thought.
Conservatives from Washington, D.C. to Palm Beach, Fla., have been busy trying to redefine our national debate on health care. They act like they want to turn it into a referendum on whether we need a cure for foot-in-mouth disease. Enough, already. There are important issues at stake here.
Like whether the system is working. AARP’S most recent bulletin has this intriguing observation: “The number of patients who die each year from hospital errors is equal to four jumbo jets crashing each week.” If true (you have to consider the source), that means we have a real problem.
Notwithstanding all the blather you hear from the regulators at the Department of Transportation, we have an extraordinarily safe and reliable air transportation system. Why? It’s not just because of the good folks at the Federal Aviation Administration, even though they help occasionally. It is primarily because of the fact that we have a mostly deregulated airline industry, where consumers have real choices. Every airline CEO knows that if his company gets a bad reputation for safety, it is curtains for the company. Think Air Florida, think Pan Am.
So it has become commonplace for the airline industry to carry its passengers hundreds of billions of miles every year without a single fatality or serious injury. That is a really good thing. No one in their right mind would want to run the risks AARP is talking about.
Unlike airlines, our hospital system is in danger of becoming a governmentmandated, - regulated, - funded, -subsidized and -sponsored monument to the inefficiency of big-government solutions. The more Washington gets involved, the less efficient the system becomes. In an effort to ensure that no one gets left out, government eventually will make sure that no one gets good care. The irony is that the Supreme Court will soon decide whether we have any choice in this. What a farce. As competitive markets always remind us, choice is all that matters.
While Rome is burning, conservatives are fiddling with women’s contraceptives. Those apparently are going to be insured because the left considers them to be preventive care, which must mean (barring a legitimate medical need) pregnancy is a disease to them. They like to call it insurance, even though there is nothing contingent about sexual activity. What they are doing is asking health insurers to subsidize normal human behavior. And then they are shocked, just shocked, that health insurance is becoming so expensive.
At some point, someone who is actually ill will go without needed health care because his premiums are subsidizing healthy human activity. That is apparently the way the left thinks. It is now the way government approaches health care.
All this largess, of course, is brought to you by a government whose balance sheet reads like a Greek tragedy and whose income statement is even worse — more than 40 cents of every dollar it now spends is borrowed. The Congress that passed the health care mandates could not even pass a budget, since it was spending money it did not have so fast it could not add it all up. Undoubtedly, when government finishes doing to health care what it did to real estate, it will go boldly where it has gone before and bail out everyone all over again. It is just paper money, after all. Call it the “what, me worry” school of fiscal policy.
Conservatives need to keep these issues in some perspective. The testimony of a law student, whether right or wrong, is not important. What matters is life and liberty, the pursuit of sanity and government’s encroachment on all three. Let’s focus on that for a change.